Theater at Northeastern University – A three-part story

Photo (cc) by Hernan Pinera


I’ve dipped my toes in mixed media like photography and video on this blog before, but reader be warned! I’m preparing a multistep, multi-format project for December. 

Since I’ve been focusing on entertainment and celebrities, I’ve decided to take that idea a little more locally and explore the entertainment and celebrities of my own Northeastern University.

I’ll be making a 3-minute video profiling Northeastern student Carol Hicks, who goes by Carly. She’s an environmental science major here, but she devotes her free time to music. A classically trained vocalist, she tried theater for the first time when she came to college and is now a soloist in NU Stage’s upcoming performance of “Godspell.” For my video, I’ll help you get to know her a little, as a person and as a performer, and give you a look at her experience with NU Stage, which is Northeastern’s only student-run musical theater group. They put on both a main stage show and a musical review each semester.

To accompany the video, I’ll be doing a photo series that goes behind the scenes of “Godspell” to show you what the cast does at a typical rehearsal. I’ll photograph dancing, singing and the general antics of a cast of performers as they prep for their big show.

The final part of my series will be a piece that takes the focus off of the performers and onto the people behind-the-scenes. I’ll be doing a text piece profiling the team of ushers that makes the show go on. Most audience members only know them as the people who take their coffee away; my article will show the rest of the story.

I’ve been chatting with Carly this week and we’re both enthusiastic about the profile. The leaders of NU Stage have granted me access to a rehearsal, and I have a contact who is helping me get time with the ushers. Between the three methods of storytelling, I hope my readers can get an good look at what goes into local entertainment events like college theater.


Today I Met New York Times-Published Photographer Adam Glanzman

Photojournalist Adam Glanzman presents to a Northeastern University class. Photo: 2016 by Georgeanne Oliver

I’d like to deviate a bit from my usual topic today and talk about an event I witnessed that might be of some interest to my fellow journalists, or to anyone interested in photography.

In my class on digital journalism, we had a presentation from guest Adam Glanzman. Glanzman is a staff photographer at Northeastern University, which I attend. He’s responsible for taking photos for Northeastern’s daily emails and monthly magazines, as well as for the university’s website.

But he was in class today to speak about his other, slightly more glamorous venture: photo journalism. Glanzman has been published all over, but the focus of today was his series this month in the New York Times, “The 75-Year-Old Arm Wrestler.” It follows arm wrestler Norm Devio and consisted of 12 photographs, though Glanzman estimates he took around 5000.

He said he had trouble getting ahold of Devio, because the athlete didn’t use much modern communications technology, but managed to reach him through a friend of Devio’s. Glanzman did the series on his own, but a New York Times editor saw some of his work and contacted him. 

Glanzman said the editor kept asking him to re-edit and keep shooting. He requested things like ender shots and humanizing photos. The two didn’t always feel the same way about every photo.

“Sometimes you don’t see eye-to-eye with your editor and that’s okay,” Glanzman said.

The series was shot with a digital camera in color but later converted to black and white. Glanzman felt the dark basement pictures he took for the series looked better without color.

In terms of advice, he suggested that photographers include scene-establishing shots, character shots, detail shots and portraits, among others, in photo essays.

Though he said they don’t work as well in dark areas, he occasionally does use iPhones as a photographer.

“If you feel like you could take a more intimate photo and not maybe get in the way with your big camera, and an iPhone is appropriate, then that’s fine,” he said.

An Afternoon at Boston’s CollegeFest


This weekend, I was hunting for a way to spend Saturday afternoon and heard from a friend that something called “CollegeFest” was happening in Fenway Park. Since I like fests and I am in college, I thought it would be a good fit for me. All I was looking for from the event was a nice way to spend an afternoon. I only later decided to cover it for this blog!

The Eventbrite page included this description:

CollegeFest at Fenway is the biggest back to school party for college students in Boston. Now in it’s [sic] 31st year, it’s bigger and better than ever, with great prizes and giveaways, including L.L.Bean and Dunkin’ Donuts gift cards, and tickets to games at Fenway.

The page went on to mention live music and Fenway photo opportunities.

Considering it was a free event catering to Boston’s more than substantial college population, I was concerned that the line to get in would be hours long, especially since there was free stuff. I tried to go to an event earlier this month at the Lawn on D, a popular but less central event space in Boston, and founds myself, along with thousands of people, unable to get in. 

CollegeFest lasted from 11 a.m.-6 p.m. I went around 4:45, and found that, at least at that point, access was easy.

The people at Yawkey Way and the surrounding area certainly didn’t resemble the hopping mayhem that occurs during a Red Sox game. 

There was a short security check, but other than that visitors could just walk into the park.

Although live music was listed on the Eventbrite page, whatever had been happening in that regards had wrapped up by 4:45 p.m. The event didn’t have the atmosphere of a concert or live music event in any way. Instead, it was focused almost solely around the brands that were in attendance and their giveaways. Booths for different companies lined the inside of the park where guests normally buy french fries and franks. Even though there was over an hour left in the event, I noticed that GrubHub already had an empty booth.

Many of the still-operating booths were offering small items like drink koozies and stickers, and several had carnival-style wheels you could spin for additional prizes. 

Companies like DavidsTea, Vice Cream and Monster offered free sample of their edible or drinkable products.

In terms of the atmosphere, things were calm. There were students around, but most of the booths had very little in terms of lines.

Though the giveaways were by far the main event at that hour in the day, there were a few booths that had entertainment in addition to products.

There were costumed actors moving around, silently and in-character, like a creepy version of Disney World.

This zombie character came up and stared into my soul more than once.

L.L. Bean was allowing visitors to throw Bean Boots like they would a bean bag in a bean bag toss, and there was some on-sight boxing.

Later into the event I saw this impressive character, who towered over the visitors. 

Most of the event was indoors, but visitors could head outside to a small section of the stadium, where they could view both the park and a few cherished Red Sox items.

Signs of the event decelerating had already started at 4:45 p.m. with the GrubHub booth, but by 5:30 p.m. I could see employees from more brands starting to follow their lead.

Understandably, there appeared to be a lot of cleaning necessary after the seven-hour event.

Even with the signs of decline, I did pass several people headed to the event on my way out around 5:40.

I found covering this event on Twitter useful because it made it easy to share how the afternoon unfolded in real-time. Through Twitter, you can, with minimal strife, take audiences on a journey with you. I also appreciated how easy it is to incorporate video and photos into my storytelling. The limitations were the limitations that always exist on Twitter. That is, the platform doesn’t cater itself to terribly in-depth coverage. It led to a lot of little observations and not much sophisticated analysis. Additionally, it made it hard to curate the story, because I’d post one photo of a character or item and then take a better but redundant one.